AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Thursday’s Things To Know: UConn impresses, 3-point record falls and Oregon falters

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We’re closing in on one of the more entertaining stretches of the college basketball season with Thanksgiving tournaments giving us all-day hoops and really interesting non-conference matchups. It’s still early, and the best is yet to come, but Thursday night provided some quality hoops. Oh, and one guy shooting a ton of 3s. Literally more 3s than anyone has ever shot before. Here’s what you need to know:

1. UConn asserts itself against Syracuse.

It’s been a tough few years at UConn. It’s been two really bad years, but it’s mostly been not-great for the Huskies since that 2014 national title. It’s Dan Hurley’s job to change that. His first Big East throwback game certainly looked like it’s one he’ll be up for.

UConn’s quest to change the outlook of its locker room and the culture of its program was evident in the Huskies’ 83-76 win against Syracuse at Madison Square Garden.

Changing the culture has become The Thing New Coaches Simply Have To Talk About, but there’s no doubting it needed to happen in Storrs as a program that’s used to winning national titles began to languish in a league that’s simply second tier. UConn in the AAC is a different challenge for a coach than UConn in the Big East. It’s tougher. Hurley has a long way to go, but getting a team to buy in from the outset is a positive signal.

2. Jordan Lyons goes berserk

On Wednesday night, Josh Williams of Robert Morris tied a 23-year-old NCAA record by making 15 3-pointers. It took about 24 hours for that number to be matched again.

Jordan Lyons matched Williams’ 15 makes from distance, but broke an NCAA record with 34 attempts from 3-point range in the Paladins’ win against a Division II opponent on Thursday.

As teams continue to hoist shots from 3-point range at an ever-increasing rate, these types of nights are going to become more typical, but to see two guys tie a record that’s stood for more than two decades on back-to-back nights? I mean, c’mon, that’s a little crazy.

3. Oregon goes down

Give Iowa credit. The Hawkeyes shot just 35.7 percent from the floor, but got to the line 33 times, making 29 of their attempts (87.9 percent) and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds to keep the offense afloat. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a 77-69 neutral site win against a ranked opponent, which will certainly come in handy for a team looking to get back to the NCAA tournament after a two-year drought.

Also, the Big Ten looks like it might be pretty good. Michigan stomped all over Villanova, Indiana blasted Marquette, Wisconsin handled Xavier and now the Hawkeyes bested Oregon. That’s a pretty good week for a league that has been stuck in something of a malaise the last few seasons.

The overwhelming feeling from watching the nightcap at Madison Square Garden, though, was just how underwhelming Oregon looked. There just wasn’t a lot of there there for the Ducks. That’s problematic for a top-15 team that is the heavy favorite to win the Pac-12 this season. They just lost a game to what many would pick to be a middle-of-the-pac B1G while holding them to under 40 percent shooting while only committing eight turnovers themselves. Getting 25 points from Ehab Amin is nice, but otherwise an all around uninspiring performance from Dana Altman’s group.

Buddy Boeheim’s name misspelled on Syracuse jersey

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As the son of the Hall of Fame coach, Buddy Boeheim can count on a lot of things. He’ll get tons of attention. He’ll be talked about time and again on national television. He’ll be under quite a bit of scrutiny. That’s part of the deal when you’re playing for your dad, a legend in Jim Boeheim.

You’d also think the equipment guys would spell your name right.

The Syracuse freshman was missing an “e” on his jersey in the Orange’s loss Thursday to UConn, leaving maybe the most famous last name in Syracuse, N.Y. misspelled as” Boheim.”

 

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Jim has been a part of the Syracuse program since 1962. Maybe it’ll take a second national title to make sure his kid’s name is spelled right on the jersey.

Or maybe Buddy has to earn that “e” on his own?

Syracuse transfer Matthew Moyer eligible to play immediately at Vanderbilt

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Things are good right now for Vanderbilt basketball. The Commodores have a couple of five-star recruits on the roster, and they’re 2-0 with a win over USC already on the resume.

It just got even sweeter.

Matthew Moyer, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Syracuse, was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA and will be able to play as soon as Friday for Vandy, it was announced Thursday.

“The NCAA has a process for reviewing these requests and we are thankful that they have allowed Matt to play immediately,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said in a statement.  “We are also thankful for all of the time spent by our compliance office during this process.”

Moyer played in 37 games last season, in only on the court with the Orange after he redshirted his first year on campus. He averaged 3.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game before transferring to Vanderbilt this past summer. The school has not announced why Moyer was seeking a waiver to be immediately eligible, though the NCAA has been increasingly granting such requests in recent months.

Moyer is a former top-50 recruit in the 2016 class.

Vandy is back in action Friday against Alcorn State, with Moyer presumably in uniform. The Commodores were already one of the more intriguing teams in an SEC that looks increasingly strong, and adding Moyer makes them even more interesting in s suddenly deep league.

Reed’s 26 points help No. 19 Clemson beat Sam Houston State

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Brad Brownell knows he has something many other programs don’t — a highly experienced backcourt to call on when things get tight.

Marcquise Reed had a season-high 26 points and point guard Shelton Mitchell 13 as the 19th-ranked Tigers used a second-half surge to put away pesky Sam Houston State 74-59 on Wednesday night.

“I better enjoy this, because I don’t think I’m going to have it next year,” Brownell said. “Those guys once again played well down the stretch.”

Particularly during a 16-3 run midway through the second half as they combined for 11 points while Clemson took control. The Tigers opened 3-0 for the second straight season and for just the fifth time in coach Brad Brownell’s nine years.

For a good while, though, it seemed the Bearkats of the Southland Conference were more than up to the challenge of handling an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

RJ Smith’s 3-pointer early in the second half put Sam Houston State ahead 38-37 before Clemson’s back-breaking run.

Reed scored seven straight points to start the run while Mitchell added a pair of baskets, one off a steal where he dribbled into an official before getting clear for the layup and a 53-41 lead.

“I told him that was bad defense,” Brownell joked about Mitchell.

The Bearkats (2-2) could not respond as Clemson eventually grew the margin to 16 points down the stretch.

Both Reed and Mitchell explored their NBA options last spring before choosing a final college year. They’re each committed, Reed said, to an even bigger season than last year when the 25-win Tigers advanced to the Sweet 16.

Reed said he and Mitchell know they’re the ones who must set the tone with Clemson’s younger players.

“We’ve been in a lot of these situations and scenarios before,” Reed said. “So it’s easy to spread it to the young guys.”

Aamir Simms had 12 points and eight rebounds for Clemson.

It was Reed’s second 20-point game of the season.

Kai Mitchell led Sam Houston State with 14 points and Josh Delaney added 11.

Clemson looked ready to blow things open early as it made its first six shots and led 15-7 five minutes in. But the Tigers went cold the rest of the half, and Sam Houston State took advantage.

Clemson made just five of its final 18 shots of the opening half and the Bearkats took the lead, 30-29 on Albert Almanza’s four-point play with 43.8 seconds left when he got fouled by Elijah Thomas.

But Clemson’s Mitchell answered with a long 3 20 seconds later to send the Tigers into the break up 32-30.

THE BIG PICTURE

Sam Houston State: The Bearkats have lost two in a row on the road. They showed an ability to hang with bigger Clemson for much of the game, but could not handle the Tigers’ experience in the backcourt with three-year starters in Reed and Mitchell.

Clemson: The Tigers struggled to shoot consistently. Their defense, though, held up throughout the game as they limited Sam Houston State to less than 35 percent shooting with six steals and five blocks.

TOUGH TIME FOR THOMAS

Thomas has played through a difficult stretch. He was hurting from an ankle injury in the Tigers’ first two games and played against Sam Houston State despite being sick with the flu. Thomas had a 101-degree temperature Monday. He played 25 minutes Wednesday night with three points, five rebounds and two blocks.

ROAD WOES

Sam Houston State coach Jason Hooten has not liked what he’s seen down the stretch in his team’s first two road games. The Bearkats had the lead in the second half at Louisiana Tech and at Clemson, yet lost both games.

“There’s been a moment where we had chance to seize, I’m not going to say the game, but the lead. We’re not ready for that yet,” he said.

UP NEXT

Sam Houston State concludes its two-game swing at Power Five programs by going to Georgia on Friday night.

Clemson plays Akron on Monday to start the Cayman Islands Classic.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Williamson, No. 1 Duke rout Eastern Michigan 84-46

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DURHAM, N.C. — Zion Williamson tossed up an alley-oop lob for RJ Barrett, and on the next trip downcourt, Barrett returned the favor by setting up a dunk for Williamson.

For these high-flying Blue Devils, that No. 1 ranking sure seems to fit.

Williamson scored 21 points, Barrett added 20 and Duke routed Eastern Michigan 84-46 on Wednesday night in its first game this season as the nation’s top-ranked team.

“It is great to be No. 1, but nobody really cares who’s No. 1 right now,” Williamson said. “The goal is to win a championship in March.”

Javin DeLaurier and Jack White added 10 points apiece for the Blue Devils (3-0). Playing two days after leapfrogging Kansas for the top spot in the AP Top 25, they looked every bit the part of a top-ranked team.

They shot 47 percent, turned 20 turnovers by the Eagles into 31 points and took command with an early 21-1 run keyed by an assortment of dunks by Williamson.

Damari Parris had nine points to lead outmanned Eastern Michigan (3-1), which shot 31 percent and was stuck in single-digit scoring for about 17 1/2 minutes.

Unlike their last game — in which Army hung with them for about 30 minutes three days earlier — the Blue Devils took the drama out of this one early.

“Everything we did kind of worked,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “but the reason it worked is because we played so hard.”

Williamson put Duke up by 20 for good midway through the first half with the highlight of the night — leaping so high to pull in a seemingly errant alley-oop pass that his armpits were even with the rim before he dunked — and Barrett made it a 30-point game with a bucket with about five minutes before halftime.

“The atmosphere got the best of us the first 6-7 minutes of the game,” Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy said. “It was a struggle for us to score in the first half, and once you get down in this building … it’s pretty hard to come back.”

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Michigan: Not surprisingly, the Eagles threw a 2/3 zone defense at the Blue Devils — Murphy spent seven years on the Syracuse staff with zone savant Jim Boeheim. It wasn’t much of an impediment to the nation’s top-ranked team, though that seems insignificant in the long run because nobody in the Mid-American Conference will match Duke’s talent level.

Duke: Being No. 1 is nothing new for the Duke program — the Blue Devils started the two previous seasons in the top spot — but it’s a new experience for these freshmen. Not that they seem affected in the slightest. Williamson has scored at least 20 points in all three games while making 32 of his 39 shots.

INJURY REPORT

Krzyzewski says 3-point-shooting threat Cameron Reddish was dealing with soreness in his groin but “nothing serious” and would have played more had the game been closer. Reddish finished with three points on 1-of-5 shooting in less than 12 minutes.

PLAY OF THE NIGHT

There were lots of choices, but the best of the bunch came midway through the first half when Reddish lobbed an alley-oop pass from just across midcourt that seemed headed for the seats. Williamson skied so high for it that his armpits and eyes were both at rim-level. That highlight-reel jam made it 28-7, putting Duke up by 20 for good.

STATS OF THE NIGHT

By the time Duke led by 20, Williamson had more dunks (four) than Eastern Michigan had field goals (three). … The Eagles led for 18 early seconds — when it was 2-0 — and that brought the total amount of time the Blue Devils have trailed this season to 30 total seconds.

UP NEXT

Eastern Michigan: Plays host to Boston University on Saturday.

Duke: Faces San Diego State on Monday in its Maui Invitational opener.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

VIDEO: Zion Williamson converts monster alley-oop on Eastern Michigan

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Duke freshman Zion Williamson is at it again.

The Blue Devils are hosting Eastern Michigan at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night as Williamson got the Cameron Crazies rocking with a monster alley-oop.

Williamson’s head is at rim level as he catches the ball near the top of the square off of a half-court feed from fellow freshman Cam Reddish.

The No. 1 Blue Devils ended up blowing out Eastern Michigan with an 84-46 win as Williamson ended with a team-high 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting.

(h/t: ESPN and Andrew Doughty)